No matter what country you grew up in the Western World, the global war on drugs will have most likely made its way into your classroom or in the news and you will have heard cannabis talked about in a negative light and quite often mentioned in the same vain as much harder drugs.
Now we are seeing the same countries legalizing medical marijuana and even some for recreational use, such as Canada on October 17th, 2018.
This previous stigmatism has created many untruths and rumors about cannabis that have stuck to medical cannabis use like old wife’s tales. These misunderstandings have created concern surrounding the use of medical cannabis, and although people are becoming more enlightened about the potential benefits of using medical cannabis, it is good to have these stigmas ironed out, so we have a correctly educated society.
MYTH: – Medical Cannabis Use Will Lead to Using Different or Harder Drugs
So almost all of you will have heard cannabis be referred to as a ‘gateway drug’ and the evidence stated for this was down to cannabis use preceding the use of illicit substances in some cases of drug abuse within humans. Any scientist worth their salt will tell you that correlation does not equal causation and that there is in fact no evidence that consuming cannabis will increase the chance of people being addicted to other drugs, and this is backed by a study by the Institute of Medicine.
Evidence is now starting to point in a contradicting direction as medical cannabis is currently being heavily researched into its potential uses in tackling opiate-based addictions. A particular movement worth following is the Veterans Cannabis Project who are against veterans being prescribed opiates because it has led to addiction. These same veterans are being prescribed cannabis as a means to curb their opiate addition and they refer to cannabis as an “exit drug”, the complete opposite of the original gateway rhetoric.
MYTH: – All Types of Medical Cannabis Will Get You “High”
You can’t really blame people for assuming the only function of cannabis is in its psychoactive properties. Films like Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke and The Big Lebowski have installed a stereotype that cannabis is for only used for achieving that ‘high’ feeling but this couldn’t be more untrue.
Cannabis contains two main medical constituents – Tetrahydrocannabinol & Cannabidiol or THC & CBD.
The main psychoactive property of cannabis is THC, and this is because it binds to receptors found in the endocannabinoid system called the CB1 receptors. It is believed to be this binding action that will cause the psychoactive feeling.
CBD operates in quite a similar way to THC medically apart from the fact it doesn’t bind to these CB1 receptors, so it doesn’t produce that high feeling, although it can produce a very mild feeling of relaxation. It is also worth noting that CBD has been shown to reduce the action of THC so will diminish the feeling produced from any THC consumed.
MYTH: – Smoking Medical Cannabis is Worse for You Than Smoking Tobacco
You’d be hard pushed as a tobacco smoker living in the western world today to not see warnings about the potential harmful effects it may cause, and cannabis has been seemingly thrown into this category purely because it is a smokable material. There are however many differences between the constituents in the smoke inhaled from tobacco and cannabis.
To get the final product that you see in shops, tobacco has several additives that are simply not added to cannabis. Also studies upon the pharmacological activities of tobacco vs. cannabis smoke show that whilst tobacco promotes an inflammatory immune response that may enhance the carcinogenic effects of smoke, cannabis may minimize these pathways.
No one is going to tell you that combusting organic material and inhaling it is completely safe (expect doctor endorsed cigarettes from the 50’s), so if you want a safer smoke then look at our next debunked myth.
MYTH: – Smoking is the Only Way to Experience Benefits from Medical Cannabis
Whilst it is true that smoking cannabis will get cannabinoids into your bloodstream instantaneously and it is the main way that users decide to consume cannabis for convenience, it isn’t the only way you have to consume cannabis.
You can sublingually (put under the tongue) oils and tinctures that have been extracted from the plant and put into liquid form. These will take approximately 20 minutes to take effect but will produce a longer lasting effect when compared to smoking and are often preferred by some medical patients because you can give yourself the exact dose you require quickly and efficiently.
Another popular method is to vaporize, which involves heating up the cannabis flower in a chamber prior to inhaling the vapor. Because the flower itself isn’t burned the vapor doesn’t contain any carcinogens. The only real con about vaporizing is the initial outlay for a good vaporizer.
MYTH: – That Medical Cannabis Kills Brain Cells
This myth stems from a study from New Zealand that tested for a comparison of what happened to your IQ as you age. It found that of the 1000 applicants, 38 of them were long-term cannabis users and they on average dropped 8 points from when they took they test at the age of 18 compared to when they retook the test at the age of 38.
Some of these cannabis users IQs increased from test-to-test however, it was just the average that dropped, which warrants a better conclusion in the results. Follow up studies have shown that IQ level fluctuations result more from your social and economic conditions as you grow older, rather than if you are a long-term cannabis smoker.
Also, there hasn’t yet been any pathways suggested and then scientifically confirmed that show that cannabis does indeed kill brain cells. Therefore, with no conclusive evidence for it the claim, then it is completely unfounded.